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Dear Jo: The Target Trap

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March 28, 3 years A.B. (after-baby)

Dear Jo,

Sometimes you realize just how much you lucked out with Paul. Sure, it sucked that he was out of town (especially while Emerson was sick), but at least the guy decided to take a day off work when he came back. So, you have a long weekend. Though what is a long weekend exactly? Most of the time your Saturdays look like your Mondays and Tuesdays it’s just that Paul is around the house.

Dear Jo: The Target Trap

It has only been three years and yet it’s still hard to remember what exactly you did on the weekends before having kids. That’s right; you slept in. And you sometimes managed to squeeze a nap in also. Sometimes you cleaned. A lot of times you shopped. During the summer, you’d spend it on the lake or running. Remember when you used to run? I suppose that’s why you own all that workout gear that you still wear as practically a uniform, but it doesn’t get much of a workout anymore. Moisture-wicking is now spit-up wicking.

You thought about taking the kids to the zoo, but most of the animals still aren’t out on exhibit. Why do you live in a place where even the animals have to spend the winter indoors? Then Paul had a brilliant idea: he told you to get out of the house for a while. He said it much nicer than that of course.

You couldn’t leave right then because Lyla would want to nurse soon and she still wasn’t taking to the bottle…just like Emerson. You had hoped that things would be different with Lyla. You swore you’d get her on a bottle as soon as breastfeeding was established. You didn’t want a repeat of Emerson. You tried with him. You researched and Googled, asked your doctor and friends, yet nothing seemed to work. The kid new a fake when he tasted it. “Wait until he gets hungry enough” they said. That’s easier said than done. How exactly do people expect you to persist with a dummy nipple when he has spent the last 20 minutes in hysterics and you both know that you could just whip out the real thing and satisfy him in seconds?

But Lyla would be different. This is what you told yourself. You’d coax her into it before she would know the difference. That way you wouldn’t have to be present for every one of her feedings. You could go out for more than two hours. Paul could even warm a bottle in the middle of the night and you could sleep through a feeding. Wouldn’t that be magical? A moment dreams are made of?

Well, it’s still a dream at this point because she is following her big brother’s example. You tried starting earlier. You tried different nipples. You learned that different nipples have different flows. You tried them all. Paul tried them. Your mom tried them. Even Emerson gave it a whirl once. Nothing. Nada. No luck. And so, you are present for each and every one of her feedings.

Once Lyla nursed, you changed and got ready to go.

“What was wrong with what you had on?” Paul asked.

“I’m going to Target,” you said, as if that was explanation enough.

“You can’t wear yoga pants there?”

You laughed to yourself. Target demanded a step up. This wasn’t that lower-class big box store, after all. No, for Target you needed jeans and a T-shirt that didn’t smell like sour milk.

When you got out of the car, you instinctively opened the back door, expecting to unbuckle a child. Then you remembered that you were alone. You grabbed a cart as soon as you walked in the store. You didn’t know why. You didn’t have a list. There was nothing you needed, but really you knew there would be plenty to find. You headed for the sales racks, after all, how could you pass up a good sale? It only made sense to take advantage of a good price, right? And soon enough the cart began to fill with pjs for Emerson, dresses for Lyla, wipes and finger food puffs (Lyla was still months away, but you couldn’t pass up the sale price. They would surely keep in the pantry until she was ready, right?). You found a cute skirt for yourself (surely you’d find someplace to wear it) and some boxer briefs for Paul (you noticed that some of his were getting old and you didn’t want to leave him out). Then the photo for over the fireplace caught your eye. And the book you’d been meaning to get from the library.

You strolled through each aisle, filling the cart. It started with excitement. You were hunting and gathering and claiming items for your family. It was when you grabbed the cat nip toy for the cat that you finally stopped. Why exactly did Arnold need cat nip? The cat was crazy enough already. The other day he darted into the living room, scaled the curtains and then sat on top of the rod with a crazed look in his eye before he bolted back down and into the other room.

You stopped and looked at your cart. Maybe you didn’t need the cat toy. Or the photo. You really liked the painting that you already had there anyway. Paul’s underwear was fine. Your mom just gave Lyla a few dresses last week. Emerson’s pajama drawer can’t close as it is. And, let’s be honest, when a chance to wear a skirt again presents itself, you already have a closet full to choose from.

And so you abandoned your cart. You walked to the front of the store empty-handed. But you did grab a cup of coffee on the way out the door because if there’s one thing you could always use it’s a caffeine boost.

Dear Jo: A {fictional} Diary of a Modern Mom“Dear Jo: A Diary of a Modern Mom” is a serial fiction story written by Meagan Church. Stay tuned for the next diary entry of one mom’s attempt to chronicle what she has been told are the days she shouldn’t forget…spit-up, tantrums, milestones and all. Visit the Dear Jo page to catch up on the already-published entries. And, be sure to subscribe today, so you don’t miss a single installment:


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Motherhood Doesn't Come with Sick Days

{Photo credit: ©Africa Studio.}

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